A Facebook post may lead Columbia Public Schools to change the name of Rock Bridge High School’s football field.
Superintendent Peter Stiepleman and school board president Helen Wade say a Facebook post this week by Wayne Sells is not acceptable.
A screenshot of the social media post appears to show Sells cursing out NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. You can see the screenshot, which does include adult language, here.
Sells apologized for the post in a letter you can see here courtesy of ABC 17, although he says he does think people should stand for the anthem. He suggested renaming the field “Veterans Memorial Field.”
Columbia Public Schools released the following statement on Wednesday:
Yesterday afternoon Columbia Public Schools and the Board of Education were made aware of a social media post made by Rock Bridge High School’s Sells Field namesake.
The post used profane language to refer to NFL football players who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem, as well as others who the author perceived to be affiliated with “all lives matter.”
While Mr. Sells’ financial gift to the school for improved athletic facilities was and is appreciated, the content of the post is not representative of the values of Rock Bridge High School, Columbia Public Schools, or of the Columbia Board of Education.
The school district has reached out to the Sells family regarding the removal of the name from the field.
The Board of Education will convene a special closed session this Friday, September 18, and will discuss removing the name at its public work session on September 24.
Board of Education President Helen Wade shared the following statement with members of the Board of Education yesterday:
“I anticipate that this necessary action will be met with support from our community, and also with opposition from our community. At a time when the injustices and inequities in our city have been laid bare, and our students, our parents, and our employees are struggling day-in and day-out, I believe it is our responsibility to stand up, speak up, and take action.”
As the Board of Education discussed at its meeting on September 14, the district’s equity statement states, “Columbia Public Schools, through action and in partnership with families and the community, will uphold the values, policies, and practices that promote cultural competence.”
These values will guide Board of Education decisions and further actions on this matter.
(This story was last updated at 6:55 a.m. Thursday.)